You have the right to have legal representation, even if you cannot afford a lawyer. Here we’ll discuss various programs and solutions that can help you receive legal help in and around Las Vegas.
Most of the time, when you need legal help in Las Vegas or elsewhere, it’s because you are in some kind of trouble. Maybe your loved one got arrested and there is a criminal case against him or her. Maybe you are about to get a divorce and you want to protect your assets. Or maybe you were injured in a car accident and don’t know how you are going to pay for your medical expenses or property damage.
How Do You Get a Lawyer in Las Vegas if You Can’t Afford One?
If you’re having legal problems in and around Las Vegas, you might not have the money that you need to pay legal fees. How do you get a lawyer when you need one, but can’t afford it?
Here’s where you can look for legal representation if you can’t afford a lawyer’s retainer fee or upfront hourly rate:
- Public defenders
- Legal aid societies
- Law schools
- Bar associations
- Contingency fee agreements
- Payment plans
In the United States, if you have been charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney , you will be provided with a public defender. This right to an attorney is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment and the historic 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona.
In Miranda, the police obtained a written confession from a defendant after two hours of interrogation. The written confession was admitted into trial over the objection of the defense attorney. The jury found the defendant guilty. On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fifth Amendment requires law enforcement officials to advise suspects of their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney during an interrogation while in police custody.
Because of the Fifth Amendment and this Supreme Court case, if you have been charged with a crime and cannot afford to pay an attorney, you will be provided with a criminal defense attorney.
Legal Aid Societies
Legal aid societies are nonprofit organizations that provide free legal help to low-income people. To qualify for legal aid services in Nevada, including the Las Vegas area, you must be below a certain income level.
For example, in Southern Nevada, the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada offers free legal services to clients if their income and number of people in their household fall under the following guidelines:
People in Household / Max. Yearly Income / Max. Month Income
1 $27,390 $2,284
2 $31,350 $2,613
3 $35,255 $2,938
4 $39,160 $3,263
5 $42,295 $3,525
6 $45,430 $3,788
7 $48,565 $4,046
8 (& above) $51,700 $4,309
To qualify for services at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, client must also not have more than $5,000 in net assets other than one motor vehicle and/or work related equipment.
The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada offers legal advice in the following practice areas:
- Consumer Rights – legal issues that affect consumers, including adult guardianship, bankruptcy, car information, consumer credit, criminal record sealing, debt collection, health insurance, foreclosure, homestead, identity theft, landlord/tenant, payday loans, predatory loans, small claims court, social security, and student loans
- Children’s Attorneys – including children in foster care, education advocacy, and volunteer education advocates
- Family Justice – family law issues including domestic violence, custody, divorce, guardianship, immigration, and name change/gender marker
- Military and Veterans
- Senior Citizens
Many law schools offer legal clinics to their students, where students can get real life experience practicing law under the supervision of a faculty member who is also a licensed attorney. You might be able to get pro bono legal help at one of these clinics.
Student practice rules vary by state, so what law students can do depends on where you live.
Check with this Las Vegas Law School for Free Legal Help
At William S. Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas, there are nine different clinics offered where students get involved in handling all aspects of client representation. These clinics include:
- Appellate Clinic
- Education Advocacy Clinic
- Family Justice Clinic
- Immigration Clinic
- Investor Protection Clinic
- Mediation Clinic
- Misdemeanor Clinic
- Rosenblum Tax Clinic
County and State Bar Associations
Bar associations are another great resource for finding free or discounted legal services. There are a few different types of bar organizations that provide different services to the public.
The American Bar Association is a national voluntary bar association that offers information about the law, the courts, and legal education to the public. The ABA’s website is a good place to start to get basic information about your legal questions. There is also a portion of the website called “ABA Free Legal Answers” where users can post civil legal questions for each state and lawyers can provide information and basic legal advice.
Your state bar association may offer legal resources that are free or low cost. In Nevada, the State Bar of Nevada has the Access to Justice Commission. This commission has the purpose of:
- Assessing current and future needs for civil legal services for persons of limited means in Nevada.
- Developing statewide policies designed to support and improve the delivery of legal aid programs.
- Improving self-help services and opportunities for proper person litigants and increase pro bono activities.
- Developing programs to increase public awareness of the impact that limited access to justice has on other government services and on society.
- Investigating the availability of and pursuing increased public and private financing to support legal services organizations and other efforts to provide legal assistance to persons of limited means.
- Recommending legislation or rules affecting access to justice to the supreme court.
The Access to Justice Commission works to provide legal aid through five core providers:
- Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada
- Nevada Legal Services
- Southern Nevada Senior Law Program
- Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans
- Washoe Legal Services
These organizations deliver high quality free legal services in civil matters to low-income Nevadans.
You may also have a local bar association that can help. In Southern Nevada, the Clark County Bar Association website offers a list of agencies in Southern Nevada that provide pro bono legal services.
Contingency Fee Agreements
A contingency fee agreement is a type of fee arrangement that allows someone to obtain legal representation even if they do not have the money to pay a lawyer up front.
Instead of paying attorney’s fees in advance, the client instead agrees to pay the attorney a percentage of the client’s award if they win the case.
Typically, the attorney will pay the expenses of a lawsuit up front including filing fees, depositions, medical records, and expert witnesses. Those fees then come out of the total award. The exact amount of the attorney fee will depend on the contract that you sign with the attorney.
Contingency fee arrangements are typically used in personal injury cases.
The use of contingency fees is governed by the state bar association. When you are involved in a legal matter, don’t let cost deter you from seeking the most experienced Las Vegas attorneys. Especially in personal injury cases, it pays to be represented by a top attorney who can arrange a contingency fee agreement with you.
If your lawyer doesn’t work on a contingency fee basis, see if they offer any other types of payment plans or offer services for a flat fee.
Experienced Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyers
We offer free initial consultations and contingency fee agreements. Our law firm is located in Henderson, but we work with clients all over the Las Vegas Valley. Call us at (702) 857-6000 or fill out our online contact form.